Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Elden Street Players Side Show

By • Aug 1st, 2007 • Category: Reviews, Stand Out!

Listen to our review of the Elden Street Players’ Side Show [MP3 7:16 2.1MB].

Laura: Friday evening we saw the opening night performance of Elden Street PlayersSide Show in Herndon, Virginia.

Mike: Side Show is a musical, book and lyrics by Bill Russell and music by Henry Krieger. This is a fictionalized retelling of the story of Daisy and Violet Hilton. They were Siamese twins. In the 1930’s they were part of a traveling side show and were discovered by a Vaudeville producer. They learned to sing and dance and then they take the country by storm. Unfortunately as they become more famous there are new problems they have to deal with.

Laura: This was a terrific show. I would rate this as a stand out show. It was just incredible. The acting was great, the singing and dancing was fantastic. Everybody just had so much energy. I was on the edge of my seat. It was just incredible. I really enjoyed it.

Mike: This is an outstanding show. I’ve seen it twice now. I saw a rehearsal and I saw opening night and I could go see it again. That’s one of the considerations, if we want to give a show a little extra publicity by calling it a stand out show, is if we want to go see it again. I could definitely go see this show again.

Laura: The stars of the show, the siamese twins Daisy and Violet Hilton each did a great job. Daisy Hilton was played by Jennifer Lambert and Violet Hilton was played by Katie McManus. They did an incredible job. What I really enjoyed while watching them was even though they were siamese twins, they were different. Katie McManus was the more innocent and withdrawn. She was the more just wanting to go a long, didn’t want to stir up a lot of fuss, didn’t have a real high opinion of herself until later on when she met someone that helped her come out of her shell.

Whereas Daisy Hilton played by Jennifer Lambert, was the more outspoken, the more outgoing of the twins. She had a whole different expression on her face when the producer was talking about her going into Vaudeville. She was ready to get out there and go. Her sister Violet was a little more reserved and fearful of what might happen. The singing that they did together was great. The dance numbers that they had together were also very well done.

Mike: The two men who came into the lives of the Hilton sisters were Buddy and Terry. Terry was a Vaudeville producer always looking for new talent to put up into the Vaudeville circuit. Buddy was a singing and dancing instructor who discovered the Hilton sisters and talked Terry into seeing their performances. Terry was played by Patrick McMahan and Buddy was played by Christopher Smith. They worked very well together. They didn’t feel very brotherly or anything which is good because they were very different people. As the show progressed you discovered that they might have this connection with each other forever.

The tension that McMahan gave to Terry worked really well. Terry had a fantastic number in the second act called “Private Conversation.” Everything came out. All his feelings of inadequacy and his feeling of doubt. His fears that he might actually be in love with one of these Hilton sisters. I’m not going to give away any specifics, but it was a great performance.

Smith also gave a great performance as Buddy. I especially liked how he was much more innocent and more unconcerned about how a relationship with one of the sisters might end up working. He had a wide range of emotions that he had to express throughout the show. I think he did a great job.

Laura: The person who was the head of the freak show, known as the Boss, was played by Joshua Redford. He did a good job. He played the role “weird” which I think kind of goes along with the side show. These are all people with various freaky qualities and he was just as strange as the rest of them. I really liked his performance. He had a good strong voice.

Mike: Another freak in the side show was Jake, played by J Michael d’Haviland. He did a great job. Jake was a very complex role as well because, even though he was a protector of the Hilton Sisters and wanted what was best for them, he didn’t always agree with the decision they were making. So he had to stand in the background a lot and just accept what they were doing. Finally it all boiled over near the end of the show and he did that scene extremely well. I think all the performers in the show did a really good job in their parts. When you put them all together it made for a superb performance.

Laura: The choreography for Side Show was also outstanding. The choreographers were Catherine Oh and Lisa Anne Bailey, the director. They were very complicated and complex. The dance numbers that Violet and Daisy had to do were very good. They performed well together with the added complication that they are conjoined twins. I think that made it really difficult and all the more fascinating to watch them dance. They did a superb job.

Mike: It was also an interesting set. It was fairly simple. There were two main objects that you could focus on. Early on the show takes place at the side show. The back of the stage was set up as a side show. You could see different posters for different side show freaks and you could see the big top. Later when the sisters were on Vaudeville, the focus was much more on the proscenium arch that was in the theater. There were also a few benches that came on and off at times. Again it was very nicely done. The set was designed by Jeff Boatright. I think he did a good job with setting the era from the 1930’s and making it simple enough that it was not distracting moving pops and set piece on and off the stage.

Laura: Mike was able to go out and see one of the final dress rehearsals for Side Show and also interviewed the director, Lisa Anne Bailey. And this Friday evening after the performance there will be a talkback with the cast and crew to find out how the whole process comes together.

Mike: Side Show is playing at the Industrial Strength Theatre in Herndon, Virginia through August 18th. Friday and Saturdays at 8. Sundays at 7 and potentially a Thursday night performance on the 16th at 8. For more information go to

Laura: I highly recommend that you go see this show. It was a stand out show. The dancing, singing and acting was just top notch. There are some adult situations discussed so recommend it for middle schoolers and up. But I definitely recommend you go see this show.

Mike: This is a show that people will be talking about for awhile. Go ahead and get tickets reserved while you can.

Laura: And now, on with the show.

Photo Gallery

Patrick McMahan as Terry, and Christopher Smith as Buddy Terry (Patrick McMahan) negotiating with the Boss (Joshua Redford)
Patrick McMahan as Terry, and Christopher Smith as Buddy
Terry (Patrick McMahan) negotiating with the Boss (Joshua Redford)
Daisy (Jennifer Lambert) and Violet (Katie McManus) Violet is on the right New Year's Eve Jake (J Michael d'Haviland) looks on to the festivities from the background
Daisy (Jennifer Lambert) and Violet (Katie McManus) Violet is on the right
New Year’s Eve Jake (J Michael d’Haviland) looks on to the festivities from the background

Photos provided by Elden Street Players.


  • The Boss Joshua Redford:
  • Daisy Hilton: Jennifer Lambert
  • Violet Hilton: Katie McManus
  • Buddy: Christopher Smith
  • Terry: Patrick McMahan
  • Jake: J Michael d’Haviland
  • Ensemble: Nico Aquino, Kat Brais, Mark Hidalgo, hunter Hughes, Meghan Trahan, Dean Reichard, Laura J. Scott, Nathan Williams, Alexa Yarboro, Jaclyn Young


  • Reeds: Mitch Bassman and Jane Hughes
  • French Horn: Deb Kline and Liz Lerman
  • Keyboard: David Rohde
  • Bass: Randy Dahlberg and Rick Netherton
  • Drum/Percussion: Kevin Uleck and Arthur Garrison

Production Team

  • Producer: Janet Bordeaux
  • Director: Lisa Anne Bailey
  • Music Direction: Elisa Rosman
  • Choreography: Catherine Oh and Lisa Anne Bailey
  • Dance Captains: Mark Hidalgo and Jaclyn Young
  • Stage Manager: Joan A. S. Lada
  • Assisted by: John Shea
  • Running Crew: Susan Raimo, John Shea
  • Set Design: Jeff Boatright
  • Set Construction Lead: Janet Bordeaux
  • Assisted by: Dave “The Tool” Durand, John Vasko, Tom Geunting, Jill Tunick, Richard Durkin, Mike Schlabach, Gin Gabay, Amy Skiavo, Jason Kohles, Todd Huse, Kat Brais
  • Set Painting Design: Sandy Kozel and Kathie Richmond
  • Set Painting: Sandy Kozel
  • Posters: Kathie Richmond
  • Assisted by: Joyce Gillogly, Nathan Williams, Catherine Oh, Lisa Anne Bailey, Laura Scott, Hannah Scott, Elisa Rosman, Hannah Rosman
  • Set Dressing: Joan Lada, Lisa Anne Bailey, Janet Bordeaux
  • Properties Design: Barbara Carpenter
  • Lighting Design: Ken & Patti Crowley
  • Assisted by: Mei Clements, Frank Coleman, John Shea
  • Board Operators: Jessica Armstrong, Barbara Carpenter, Mei Clements, Earle Green, Hilary Huse
  • Sound Design: Kevin Harney
  • Board Operators: Dave Correla, Anna Hawkins
  • Assisted by: Stan Harris
  • Special Effects Design Haze: Ken and Patti Crowley
  • Costume Design: Kathy and Laura Dunlap
  • Assisted by: Lucy Todd
  • Makeup Design: Sheila Hyman
  • Hair Design: Kat Brais
  • Publicity: Rich Clare, Ginger Kohles, Josh Doyle, Todd Huse
  • Cover Design: Josh Doyle
  • Playbill: Ginger Kohles
  • Box Office: Todd Huse
  • House Manager: Dave Sinclair
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